Top Tips: Networking 101 for Introverts

Some people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m an introvert, but it’s completely true. I’m very comfortable in group situations with people I know; however, if you throw me in a room of complete strangers, I often clam up in fear of initiating conversation. While networking events are not my forte, I have learned a few tricks for making the most of these situations and coming out with a few new professional contacts.

1. Take the leap: Stop using your introverted nature as an excuse for avoiding networking situations. Pick a few events that interest you and commit to making at least 3-5 new contacts at each one you attend. Choosing an event that interests you will give you something of substance to talk about when striking up a conversation. Be prepared to provide a little information about yourself and ask the other person questions to keep the conversation going.

2. Assume a role: Take greater control of the situation by volunteering to help with the event or meeting as an ambassador or a greeter. Assuming a role in the event will motivate you to talk to new people, opening the door to building new connections. As you welcome others to the event and discuss the topics being covered, you can work in a bit of your personal story and learn more about your new contact.

3. Think quality over quantity: Though the social butterfly may leave an event having met 50 new people, make it your goal as the introvert to form quality connections with 3-5 new people. In the end the focus should not be on the number of contacts you make but on how beneficial those contacts will be to your career development. Building a quality network of people who will remember you and can attest to your knowledge and skills is much more valuable than 100 contacts who barely remember meeting you.

Give networking a shot, and with a little practice you’ll learn how to successfully mix and mingle with the best of ‘em. Use your introverted powers of self-reflection to assess your efforts and make adjustments if necessary. Be patient and know that your networking skills will build over time.

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